This morning, an elderly man, in his 80s, got up early, prayed, thought about the readings for the day and walked into the church where he himself has asked to stay long past his official retirement so he can continue to serve the community there. The pastor was out of town today, so he was on the schedule to celebrate Mass. A few people showed up to daily Mass. What I’ve found in the various places I’ve lived is that the daily Mass crowd is made up of a pretty consistent bunch of people who see each other several times a week, have snippets of conversation in the minutes before or after Mass and know they’ll see each other again the next day. When your priest is in his 80s, you know that one day, he may have to really retire and go someplace to get some rest. It is a nice little community that forms and you get used to seeing the same faces around you from one day to the next.
Well, the news sources are painting this picture of what happened to this priest (in France) today. I don’t know what happened since I was not there. It seems that two young people, who theoretically had the rest of their lives ahead of them, decided to take this octogenarian’s life today.
The day’s readings were actually the readings for the Feast Day of Joachim and Anne. Otherwise, these would have been the day’s readings.
From the Old Testament book of Jeremiah:
Let my eyes stream with tears
day and night, without rest,
Over the great destruction which overwhelms…
If I walk out into the field,
look! Those slain by the sword;
If I enter the city,
look! Those consumed by hunger.
Even the prophet and the priest
forage in a land they know not.
…Why have you struck us a blow
that cannot be healed?
We wait for peace, to no avail;
for a time of healing, but terror comes instead.”
The reading from the New Testament book of Matthew for today (which was not read since it is the feast day of Joachim and Anne) speaks of evil ones being thrown into a fire where they will suffer forever. I guess that is what is happening to the two who did this act today. They are dead now. I can’t think of derogatory names that are base enough to fit them. They disgust me. If they are good people, their own families will be disgusted by them as well.
It is always interesting when these types scream out “God is Great” in a particular language just as they are causing another person to die. Its so profane and must be like nails on a chalkboard to God to have to hear those words spoken as a lie at a time like that. On the other hand, this 80 something year old priest proclaimed “God is Great” by getting up every day and tending to the needs of the people in the parish. The locals described him as being a humble guy who kept to himself and did not draw attention to himself. I’m guessing he knew a lot of them and knew their stories. He didn’t wake up one morning to scream “God is Great” after causing another to suffer. He woke up every single morning and proclaimed it with his life. When you do that, I mean, when you use your life to speak out a particular message, it rings much louder and truer. God is indeed, Great.
Rest in Peace, Father Jacques Hamel,